A ‘Superwoman’ in Medicine
She doesn’t wear a cape. She can’t fly. She will never be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But to family, friends and patients, Elizabeth (Beth) Davies, MD ’95, GME ’98, is a superwoman.
The 1995 Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) alumna and Waukesha, Wisconsin, native is a female physician raising three children, maintaining a thriving family practice with ProHealth Medical Group Clinic in Waukesha, and since 1997 has contributed her expertise and time as a family physician volunteer at the Waukesha Free Clinic, where she recently became Medical Director. Dr. Davies has done it all with a smile because of her genuine dedication to serving others. It shines through in the way Dr. Davies takes time to get to know her patients and listen to what is most important to each of them.
Helping address Waukesha’s healthcare needs came naturally to Dr. Davies, whose family has a “strong history” of pursuing careers in healthcare. Dr. Davies’ grandfather was a family practice doctor, and her father is a graduate of the MCW surgical residency program. Two of her siblings are surgeons, and her niece and nephew are working toward their medical careers as well.
Dr. Davies’ interest in a medical career developed at an early age when she accompanied her father on his rounds at the hospital and fell in love with the potential of helping people. Beyond medicine, Dr. Davies’ mother impressed upon her how rewarding serving the community could be. She distinctly recalls her mother visiting area schools dressed as “Woodsy the Owl,” encouraging kids to “give a hoot, don’t pollute!” as well as serving on multiple boards of local charities.
Following in the family’s footsteps, Dr. Davies was accepted at MCW after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She loved her time on campus and enjoyed all her academic rotations. But she recalls most vividly how her professors and friends made MCW a “home away from home.”
A Lifetime of Community Service
Dr. Davies’ first two years at MCW were devoted entirely to book learning, yet she yearned to interact with patients because she likes “to talk to people and … help take care of them.” Volunteering at Milwaukee’s Isaac Coggs Free Medical Clinic on Saturday mornings offered that opportunity. The number of uninsured, chronically ill and people without regular access to healthcare who waited hours to see a doctor astounded her, and their stories deeply touched her heart.
That experience changed her life and helped her recognize a desire to become a primary care physician. Looking back, she explains how much she likes seeing patients of every age, and family practice allows her to form long-term relationships with her patients to help them lead healthier lives.
Dr. Davies completed her residency at Waukesha Family Practice. As part of the program, she worked at the St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic where her father’s partner, Dr. Paul Fox, volunteered. His willingness to always lend a hand inspired Dr. Davies to follow his example. “Part of the draw,” Dr. Davies says, is that “the people there are wonderful.” The staff, nurses, and fellow physicians have become friends. She adds, “You feel like you’re working for a common purpose to help other people.”
Giving Back During COVID-19
Of course, helping the most vulnerable is Dr. Davies’ primary reason for volunteering, and the Waukesha Free Clinic serves everyone, including refugees, the homeless and patients who are low-income, uninsured or underinsured. As challenging as that is, the COVID-19 pandemic has really tested everyone connected to the clinic. The free clinic team pivoted quickly, switching to virtual visits to keep staff and patients safe and to ensure there were no gaps in their care. The clinic established a drive-through testing site at a Carroll University parking lot, handed out masks at farmers markets and fairs, and conducted a campaign to educate all patients — including the area’s growing Hispanic population — to help alleviate any hesitation about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
One case stands out for Dr. Davies. She recalls a family with an extremely ill father in his 40s, a wife who also was ill, a young son and a teenage daughter who was trying to take care of everyone. During a video visit, Dr. Davies and her colleagues pleaded with the father to go to the hospital. He did not want to go due to a lack of insurance and the fear of the cost of his care there. Fortunately, he relented. He was in the hospital on a ventilator for two weeks. In his absence, the clinic staff helped take care of his family, collecting food for them and dropping it off. That group effort to go above and beyond made this truly memorable for Dr. Davies and further validates why she does what she does.
She thanks MCW, which she says “helped build me as a person, as a student, and as a physician and community member.” As a proud alumna, she is grateful for the opportunity to pave the way for the next generation of physicians through her generous donations to MCW and exceptional community leadership.
Dr. Davies laughs and modestly denies being a superwoman. She likes working “in the background” and says it’s her duty and honor to help those in need. But it is exactly those qualities that convinced the MCW/Marquette Medical Alumni Association to name Dr. Davies the 2021 Alumna of the Year. Her not-so-secret identity has been revealed for the entire world to see!